The last cheese ball has bit the dust. The stinky monk cheese (as my children call it) is only a memory. Just the dregs of the raspberry-chocolate liqueur remain. It’s now officially time to declare that the feasting is over, and we wassailers must face the music. Sometime between the middle of Advent and Epiphany, our zippers stopped zipping. Maybe this is why our ancestors wore loose-fitting garments. We won’t see many early saints in size 6 denim jeans. So, what are we to do with ourselves? Diets don’t work, and our gym membership expired in 2003.
I’d like to propose a holy regimen, a divine way of looking at care of our bodies.
We can all remember the lecture from Sr. Mary Philomena concerning our bodies as temples of the Holy Spirit. Sister told us we should not abuse our bodies with rich food, lack of exercise and nasty habits. Sister’s words apparently fell on deaf ears because we just finished a month of rip-roaring indulgence that has our “temples” screaming for help. I’ll warn you from the start—don’t declare a ceasefire. You might put your guns down for a while, but unless you’re willing to live differently, you’ll be firing those high-fat, high-sugar guns again before you know it.
You see, it’s a matter of choosing a lifestyle. We have inadvertently chosen to live a certain way, a way that can be counterproductive to the Kingdom of God. When we overeat, we inhibit our bodies from keeping a healthy and productive course. The divine Kingdom is not something “out there.” It’s right in the center of our souls. It’s within each of us that God’s Kingdom reigns. So, for God’s Kingdom to really come and keep coming, we need to discover how that happens deep within our minds, hearts and souls. One of the most basic ways we live out the grace of God within is to “do what is good.”
That’s where the confusion begins: Our secular world has no idea what it means to do what is good. I heard a woman chastising her young son in the grocery store recently. She was telling him he needed to do the right thing. He had a “you’re-speaking-nonsense” look on his face. “What’s a ‘right thing’?” he asked innocently. Mom responded, “You know, do what is appropriate.”
So, if doing good, doing what’s right, doing the appropriate thing are all the same, how does an eight-year-old boy figure it out? Well, unless Mama connects her boy with the Divine One, he will spend a lifetime with no clear answers. God is the source of goodness, righteousness and even appropriateness.If we want to understand how to live good, holy lives, it starts by connecting with that source.
I think those who keep company with the Divine One knew before Christmas began that overeating was not a good choice, but New York cheesecake with chocolate sauce was right here, and God seemed so far away.
Doing what is good means constant diligence. We must begin to think and act with the mind of Jesus Christ. We can start by simply asking the question of ourselves: “Does this choice seem to fit with what I know of Jesus’ teaching?”
What’s so fine about God’s companionship is that God is willing to start small: God will put in his two cents on everything from cheesecake to politics. What’s required of us is to bring our issues to the divine table.
We must begin to be purposeful about what we do. Our lives are not thrust upon us from some anonymous source. We can take God’s hand and allow God to show us the way, or we can make choices based on what’s enjoyable at the moment. It’s simply our choice.
In the beginning, this holy regimen requires learning how to hear God speak. Don’t believe for a minute that you’re just talking to yourself. When we ask an interior question, there’s a voice that responds. So, my fellow pudgy believers, I invite you to have a conversation with your Creator about that cheesecake and where to go from here.